Hurt & Comfort

Book 2: Circumstantially Hurt

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Chapter 6: The History of What Might Have Been

After a peaceful nap, the trio was awakened by the professor entering the room.

A tranquil smile fell across Charles' face as he looked at the three men contentedly cuddled together.

Andrew was the first to notice him and said, "Is it time for our session already?"

"Yes, if you are feeling up to it."

"Yeah, we're fine, just catching a little nap between emotional scenes." Scott said as he put on his glasses.

Alan had tensed at the sound of the professor's voice, but forced himself to remember that this wasn't the beast from his home universe. He put on his glasses and looked at the professor.

"Today I'd like to do something different. With all of you recovering and the emotional scenes that you've been through the past twenty-four hours, I thought we could just visit today. And I have some information that may be of interest to Andrew." The professor said pleasantly.

"Sounds good to me. What do you have for me?" Andrew asked impatiently.

"I did some checking into the people we met from your home dimension and a few others that you mentioned. I have found their counterparts in this dimension." The professor said nonchalantly.

"Why?" Andrew asked genuinely.

"To satisfy your curiosity, perhaps to avoid another situation of you running into someone unexpectedly like with Tara." Charles said without further detail.

"Okay, I can see that... what did you find out?" Andrew asked, suddenly curious.

"Scott and Alan, do either of you know about a cousin Hank Summers who is currently living in Nevada?" The professor asked vaguely.

Scott shook his head 'no' as Alan said, "Yeah, he's my father's, brother's son. I think I met him once, kind of a dickhead as I remember."

"Oh yeah, Cousin Dickhead. I remember him now. Haven't thought about him in years." Scott said with a smile.

The professor smiled and said, "That's Buffy's father. Our universe's Buffy is living in Los Angeles with her on-again/off-again boyfriend, Pike."

"Is she the Slayer?" Andrew asked quietly.

"No, she's just a normal girl, living a normal life." Charles said with a smile.

"Willow Rosenberg is currently a student at UCLA studying to become a marine biologist."

"UCLA? I wonder if Tara has met her there?" Andrew said, thinking out loud.

At Alan's questioning look Andrew explained, "In my universe Willow and Tara were a couple, they were awesome together, I can't help but think that they are probably meant to be together in this universe too."

"What about Xander?" Scott asked after a moment of silence.

"Alexandria Harris-Harmon is a cashier at Walmart in Sacramento, she is married to her childhood sweetheart Jesse. She is known to her friends as Xandria."

"Xander is a girl?" Scott asked incredulously.

"Yes, there are subtle differences like that among the universes." Charles said with a smile.

"What about Dawn?" Andrew asked, suspecting he knew the answer.

Charles looked at a list in his hands and said, "Dawn doesn't exist in this universe. Another variation I suppose."

"Maybe not, she wasn't born, she is an interdimensional key made into human form by priests. Her existence started at the age of fifteen." Andrew said, throwing the room into silence.

"Your world is really different." Alan said with his eyebrows trying to reach his hairline.

"You have no idea." Andrew said, then thought to ask, "Did you find any information on Angelus, William the Bloody, or Anyanka?"

"Actually yes, historical references only. Apparently Angelus and William the Bloody, along with three others... Penn, Drucilla, and Darla were called the Scourge of Europe. They carved a bloody path across two continents before meeting their end in St. Petersburg, Russia." Charles said and handed some articles to Alan who in turn passed them to Andrew.

"You knew them?" Alan asked, not understanding this connection at all.

"Yeah, well at least Angelus and William the Bloody. William was later known as Spike in my world. He was really okay for a vampire." Andrew said with a sad smile.

Alan and Scott both sat silently taking in that comment.

"What about Anyanka?" Andrew asked hesitantly.

"Anyanka is only known in legend, the patron of scorned women." Charles said, passing another article.

Alan accepted the article from the professor and began to read it. "You've got to be kidding." Alan muttered as he looked up from the article. Then he noticed that he was receiving an angry glare from Andrew.

"She might have been a vengeance demon, but she was my friend before she died." Andrew said with hurt in his voice.

"Really?" Scott asked.

"Yeah, Anyanka and Halfrek were totally cool with me, there was a month when they were nicer to me than any human in my life." Andrew said sadly.

"Halfrek?" Scott asked quietly.

"Yeah, Hallie was the patron of children and avenger of lost innocence. Anyway, they're both dead now." Andrew said and looked to the professor for another topic.

The professor decided that the next two might be a little difficult for Andrew but he needed to know these truths to deal with them. "Warren is in prison, probably for the rest of his life. He was convicted of murdering his girlfriend."

Andrew thought about that and concluded that if the same thing had happened in his universe, the Tara there would still be alive. So Andrew finally looked at the professor and nodded to go on.

"Jonathan committed suicide in his senior year of high school." Charles said quietly.

Andrew thought about that and remembered hearing the story about how Buffy had stopped his Jonathan from doing the same.

"Blew his head off with a high-powered rifle?" Andrew asked without emotion.

"Yes." The professor responded.

"What about Faith, Rona, Caridad, Vi, Kennedy... how did they turn out?" Andrew asked, wanting to hear some good news.

"They're all fine, they're just normal girls living normal lives... except Faith." Charles said, waiting for Andrew to look at him.

Finally Andrew gave into his curiosity and gave the professor a look, encouraging him to continue.

"Apparently Faith wrestles alligators, and makes quite a good living doing it." Charles said with a smile.

"I can see that..." Andrew said with a chuckle.

"So can I..." Scott said with his own smile.

"I wish I could." Alan said looking at each of the men in the room.

They all waited in silence for a few moments before Andrew finally asked the big question. "What about me? Is there another me in this universe?"

"Not anymore. He was beaten to death by his father fifteen years ago in San Diego, California." Charles said quietly.

Scott and Alan simultaneously hugged Andrew as he sat stunned at the words.

"And how exactly is this less emotional than our regular therapy session?" Scott asked the professor with anger in his voice.

Andrew felt the warmth and comfort from Scott and Alan. He decided to let the professor off the hook.

"Thank you for telling me Professor, I had always wondered why my father left us when I was five. Now I can hold on to the belief that he did it to protect me from him." Andrew said and gave each of his bedpartners a squeeze to let them know he was okay.

"So I guess all this means that there are no vampires, Slayers, or demons in this world?" Andrew finally said, to break the oppressive silence.

"Not exactly. I found some obscure references and followed them up with Cerebro. There is one Vampire Slayer, and apparently there are a few vampires and demons in this world, though I couldn't tell you where to find them." Charles said simply.

"What is the name of the current Slayer?" Andrew asked, sure that he would know her, since he had either met or studied about every Slayer in the past three decades.

"Her name is Kendra... and her Watcher is Rupert Giles." Charles said, waiting for further questions.

"Oh, I remember reading about her. She didn't last very long on the hellmouth, less than a year I think. She was an active Slayer about... four years ago?" Andrew said, then smiled. "I'm glad that somewhere she is getting another chance, from all accounts, she was a good Slayer, she was killed by Drucilla about the same time Mr. Giles was taken by surprise and knocked unconscious by a traitorous Watcher."

"I can see why you wanted to stay in this dimension now. Yours sounds like more of a warzone than mine." Alan said disbelievingly.

"When I'm better, I could take you there for a visit. I think you'd like it, actually. I mean in a touristy way. I could take you to see the Cleveland hellmouth, we could visit a demon bar and meet some of the local demons, maybe even fight a fledgling vampire or two." Andrew said with a smile.

"I think I'll pass on the hellmouth tour, but thank you for offering." Alan said with his own smile.

"Is there anything any of you would like to talk about while we have this time together?" Charles asked seriously.

"Yes, I needed to ask you something." Andrew said shyly.

"And what would that be?" Charles asked.

"My power isn't like yours and Scott's, mine builds up and if I don't use it, it slips out and opens any dimensional vortex in the area... at random. Which means that anyplace that a vortex has been opened in the past month could open without warning." Andrew said sheepishly.

"So you're saying that you need to do something to use up some of your power or you'll be opening vortices throughout the building?" Charles asked in confirmation.

"I might be opening vortices throughout the state or country. My range seems to extend to the Rocky Mountains now." Andrew said with a little pride behind his timid smile.

"What do you propose to use up your power?" Charles asked, knowing that Andrew had something in mind.

"I was thinking of checking in with Buffy and the others. I have a trace portal in the mirror over there, so it wouldn't take much effort to open." Andrew said with a smile.

"And how long do you think it will take for you to dissipate your excess power?" Charles asked, realizing that Andrew was just wanting to talk to his friends in the other dimension.

"Five or ten minutes each day should keep me from losing control." Andrew said with a smile.

"I will ask Doctor McCoy to join us and you can dissipate your power now. Then, if Hank and I deem it safe, you will be allowed to use your power for ten minutes each day... for safety's sake." The professor said indulgently.

* * * * *

Hank arrived in the room to find Scott and Alan talking.

"...I think we should get in touch with Cousin Dickhead and let him know that we're twins now." Scott said playfully.

"And that you need a place for you two and your boyfriend to stay for a few weeks." Andrew added with a chuckle.

Scott burst into laughter, imagining the look on Cousin Dickhead's face when he heard that.

"Gentlemen, I believe that I was summoned so I could supervise Andrew opening a portal to his home dimension." Hank said professionally.

"Yeah Hank, pull up a chair and I'll open it right here so I can introduce everyone to Alan." Andrew said with excitement.

"Very well, but do not exert yourself, you are still recovering from overusing your power as well as the stroke." Hank warned.

"Hank, can we please call it something else? I mean, I know that technically it was a stroke, but it sounds like I'm all brain damaged and stuff." Andrew asked in a pleading voice.

"I'm afraid that I can't call it anything else because it was a stroke... and there was brain damage... and it could happen again if you're not careful. Just because you didn't lose control of half your body or become a vegetable doesn't mean that you won't if there is a next time. It. Could. Kill. You." Hank said seriously with a trace of anger in his voice.

Andrew sobered at Hank's words and nodded his head. "Point taken, I'll be careful." Andrew said in a small voice.

"However, I agree with Charles that this is a practical way to dissipate your power. So, you may proceed when ready." Hank said in a friendlier voice.

Andrew let a tendril of power slip free to see the unseen and located the vortex trace in the mirror. With almost no effort, he relocated the vortex trace in front of the bed.

He took a cleansing breath and let loose his power and let the vortex form in front of him.

* * * * *

The scene before the men was chaos. Buffy was fighting a black insectoid creature while Caridad and Rona were double-teaming a troll. Dawn stood in battle stance with a sword, defending someone who was crumpled on the floor behind her.

"Professor, isn't there anything we can do to help them?" Andrew said with worry.

The professor considered carefully for a moment then said, "Alan, blast the bug. Scott, get the other one. Andrew, can you make this portal bigger, so they can get through?"

Immediately Scott and Alan let their blasts loose, as Andrew made the portal six feet across and reaching the floor.

Buffy and the others turned and smiled in relief at the sight of the vortex in their living room.

"Thank the Goddess!" Willow said as she entered the view of the portal from the other side of Dawn.

"Are you guys alright now?" Andrew asked with worry.

"Xander needs help. A Toth demon cast a spell on him to enhance his 'demon magnet' power. He's attracting every demon in the Midwest." Buffy said with worry.

"Can't Willow reverse the spell like last time?" Andrew asked, noticing that the crumpled form that Dawn had been protecting was the battered and bloody Xander.

"No. The last time the spell created an unnatural state that I could reverse. This demon enhanced what he already had." Willow said with worry for Xander.

"And we've been so busy fighting that we haven't been able to find a counter spell..." Buffy was interrupted as a large gelatinous mass made its way into the room.

"Professor, can we bring him here? They won't be able to keep those things away from him forever." Andrew said with worry.

"I quite agree. Buffy, if you bring Xander through the portal, the demons shouldn't be attracted by him any longer and you will have time to find a counter-spell, correct?" The professor called through the portal.

"Sounds right, we need to hurry. Jell-O boy doesn't seem to respond to brute force." Buffy screamed as she and the other Slayers continued to hack and slash at the giant pile of snot.

"Creo Ignem Corvus." Andrew called and made a gesture to produce a large flaming bird. He released the bird and it flew through the vortex and hit the slimy thing dead center.

The monster began to howl in pain. Alan and Scott took the hint and each loosed an optic blast at the gooey mess.

In less than a minute the pile of sludge exploded and if it weren't so serious, the sight of all the Slayers standing drenched in goo would have been funny.

"Get Xander through the portal now!" The professor commanded.

"Dawn, go with Xander, he can't walk by himself." Buffy commanded.

"But you need my help." Dawn protested.

"You'll help us most by getting Xander out of here." Buffy said as the building shook.

"Hurry! I don't know what that is, but it's going to get us all if you don't get out of here now!!!" Buffy screamed and picked up her scythe.

Dawn knelt down and put her head under Xander's arm. With great effort, she helped him to a standing position and walked him through the portal.

* * * * *

As soon as Dawn stepped through the portal Andrew yelled out, "I'll check in with you at noon tomorrow."

Seeing Buffy nod in confirmation, Andrew withdrew his power and closed the portal.

Dawn was in shock. For the first time in days she heard silence. Then she took in her surroundings and noticed that Andrew was in bed with identical twins.

"Way to go Andrew." She said with a big genuine smile.

Hank immediately rushed over to Xander and took him from Dawn. He carried Xander to the spare bed and laid him down.

"These wounds are pretty bad. He looks like he's been beaten constantly all day." Hank commented as he began stripping off clothes and assessing damage.

"A day and a half, actually. That's how long he's been attracting demons full force." Dawn said, then noticed the blood and goo on her shirt.

"Damn it, and I just bought this shirt!" She said and tried to wipe the mess off, succeeding only in smearing it more.

"Professor, she looks to be about Kitty's size, do you think she could loan Dawn something to wear until we can get her some clothes?" Andrew asked with concern.

"Yes, of course... Dawn, Kitty is bringing you something you can change into." The professor said pleasantly.

"Uh... thanks." Dawn said as she realized that she had just had a girly fit in front of a room full of men.

"Dawn, I'd like you to meet my boyfriend Scott, and his brother Alan." Andrew said from the bed.

"Nice to meet you, guys. Now I see why you wanted to stay in this dimension. If I find a pair of studs like that for me, I'm not going back either." Dawn said with a smile as the door opened.

"Kitty asked me to bring this up to you. She said she was working on something for class." Tara said quietly.

"Tara?" Dawn said and went pale. A moment later she was hugging Tara for all she was worth. Blood, goo, and all.

Tara stood stiffly as Dawn held her and began to cry.

Andrew cast a worried look at the professor who decided he would break another one of his rules.

//Let's see what happens. I want to protect Tara too, but this might actually work out to help her.// The professor sent to Andrew.

//How Professor? Dawn will tell Tara about the other Tara's life and I can't see how that could be any help to her at all, given the problems that she is having already.//

//Think about how learning about your other self made you feel about your father. Perhaps some benefit will come of this too, maybe just as a distraction, or it might open her to possibilities that she hadn't considered before.//

//I guess so, but if it doesn't go well, be available to help pick up the pieces.// Andrew thought with worry.

Scott noticed the look of concentration on Andrew's face and finally said, "You're using telepathy. No cookies for you."

"But he started it." Andrew said in a whine, pointing at the professor.

Scott arched an eyebrow at the professor accusingly, a moment later Alan mirrored his brother's accusatory expression.

"No cookies for me either, I suppose." The professor finally said and, looking properly chastised, made his way around the bed to Hank and Xander.

"Dawn, this isn't the Tara that you knew. She is Hank's niece and comes from this dimension." Andrew said loudly enough for Dawn to hear.

"S... Sorry Tara. It's just when I saw you... and I missed you so much... Oh Goddess, it's good to see you again." Dawn said with tears in her eyes.

"It's okay." Tara said with a shy smile.

"I'm Dawn. I don't know how much you know about my world, but I want to tell you everything... I mean, if you want to hear about it." Dawn stammered, hoping that Tara wanted to know.

Tara enthusiastically nodded yes and to the surprise of the men in the bed... she smiled a full, joyful smile.

"Where can we go to talk, I've never been here before?" Dawn asked with excitement.

"Why don't I take you to my room where you can get cleaned up, then you can tell me about your world." Tara said with fascination.

A moment later the stunned men finally realized that the women had left the room.

"Did you see that smile?" Scott asked in wonder.

"I didn't even know she had teeth." Alan said in equal wonder.

"Professor? Is that what you had in mind?" Andrew asked, still stunned.

"Not exactly, but it'll do." The professor said as he watched Hank working on Xander.

"How is Xander, Doc?" Andrew asked, not able to see anything but Hank's back.

Without looking up Hank said, "I will need to get him to the MedLab to be sure, but I think he is just severely battered, he probably needs..."

"...A Week Of Bedrest." The three men in the bed chorused as one.

At that Hank looked up and over at the bed full of men. Seeing the humor in it he said, "I suppose we're going to need a bigger bed."

"He gets in on your side. We don't get along." Scott said to Alan.

"Really? I've got to hear this story. What did you do, o brother mine?" Alan asked with a big smile.

"I was fighting him when Andrew was hit by lightning, I got impatient and hit him full in the chest with an optic blast. Knocked him about fifteen feet back and into the side of a bus." Scott said gravely.

"That would explain this recent scarring on his chest. You wouldn't happen to know what happened to his eye would you?" Hank asked curiously.

"A minion of the first evil gouged it out... with his thumb I think." Andrew said from the bed.

"What about these scars on his neck?" Hank asked curiously.

"Right or left side?" Andrew asked.

"Left." Hank said, then turned Xander's head to see another set of scars on the other side.

"Vampire. I think the left side was done by Angelus; the right side was done by Dracula." Andrew said and noticed the bag of cookies sitting by Alan, just out of his reach.

"How about this circular scar on his abdomen?" Hank asked, amazed by the injuries on this man.

"Does it look about the size of a peppermint patty?" Andrew asked as he tried to reach the cookies without Alan noticing.

"Yes, that's the one." Hank said, amused by Andrew's method of measurement.

"That was from the last Toth demon that cast a spell on him. It split him into two people." Andrew said and finally was able to snag the cookies. Just when he thought he had them, Alan took the cookies from his hand and shook his head 'no'.

"We will be having lunch any minute, besides you heard Scott. You used telepathy, no cookies for you." Alan said and sat the cookies on the floor beside the bed.

"What about these scars on his left side?" Hank asked in amazement.

"Why don't you wait for him to wake up and ask him? We only compared scars once, and he won by a long shot. I think he said those on his side came from when he was possessed by a hyena, but you really need to ask him about that." Andrew said, irritated by not having any cookies.

"Very well, I will take Xander down to the MedLab to do a few tests, and will no doubt be bringing him back up within the hour." Hank said as he lifted Xander into the wheelchair that Alan had used earlier.

"Are you going to move him in too? Cause if you are, we're going to need another bed." Alan called out to Hank as he pushed Xander out of the room followed by the professor.

"I'll see what I can do." The professor said and closed the door behind him.

* * * * *

After a few minutes the door opened and Jubilee came in pushing the food cart.

"Jubilee! When did you get back?" Scott asked with excitement. Alan and Andrew shared an 'I dunno' expression and settled in to listen.

"I rode up with Emma. She said I could stay a few days, since I have a room here and all. And I've just been waiting till I could get a chance to come in and visit you guys. You need a revolving door on this room." She said as she started filling plates.

Andrew and Alan nodded in agreement with her statement.

"Jubilee, this is Andrew, my boyfriend who is also known as Portal, and this is my brother Alan." Scott said proudly.

"I thought your brother's name was Alex." Jubilee said as she passed the first plate to Alan.

"I have a brother Alex, he's in Hawaii, Alan is actually my other self from a neighboring dimension, who Andrew brought here..." Scott began but was interrupted.

"...Got it. Brother. And boyfriend... hmmm... seems like Mr. S. has loosened up in the month since I left Xavier's." Jubilee said and passed another plate to Alan, which he passed to Andrew.

"Yeah, I guess you could say that. What about you? Found anyone at the Massachusetts Institute that I should know about?" Scott asked with genuine interest.

"No one special. I keep looking, but the Gen X guys aren't that interesting." Jubilee said.

"Jubilation, listen to me. When you do find someone who is special, I want you to bring him here to meet me. The man who captures your heart must meet some exacting standards." Scott said with a caring smile.

"Well, I can see the standards you set." She said, looking at Andrew and Alan, "And that's quite a bit to live up to."

Scott beamed at the implied compliment and said, "Only the best for you."

"Now eat your food before it gets cold." Jubilee said as she started putting the serving trays away.

"Jubilee?" Andrew asked hesitantly.

Jubilee looked at him in question.

"Could you leave an extra plate for Xander. Hank said he would be back from MedLab within the hour, and he could probably use a good meal." Andrew asked shyly.

"Sure. Xander? I don't think I know him." Jubilee said curiously.

"You wouldn't. He's from my home dimension. He doesn't exist in this world." Andrew said easily.

"Huh?" Jubilee said, trying to make sense of that one.

"Not important, new guy, was beat up for a day and a half, will be back in a few minutes, will probably be hungry." Scott said, putting the story in a nutshell for Jubilee.

"You always were the best at summarizing Mr. S." Jubilee said with a laugh.

"That's why I'm the teacher." Scott said with a smile then continued, "Now sit down and tell me how things are at the new school."

* * * * *

As Scott and Jubilee were discussing the events since Jubilee decided to go to the Gen X school, Alan decided to ask Andrew about something that was bothering him.

"What was that thing you did with the flaming bird? I thought opening doorways was your mutant ability."

"That's not a mutant ability, it was magic. I studied the black arts for a few years when I was in high school. I still remember one or two spells. My friends and I were going to be big bad guys and fight the Slayer." Andrew replied, a bit ashamed.

"Why?" Alan asked, genuinely curious.

"You know, I can't even tell you now. The only thing I can think of is that we were stupid kids wanting attention." Andrew said and crossed his arms over his chest, hugging himself.

Alan noticed the movement and put an arm around Andrew's shoulders to pull him close.

Andrew leaned into the comforting embrace for a moment before saying, "It still hurts when I think about how things were back then."

"Tell me about it. Maybe if you share it, it won't hurt as much."

Alan said sensing that Andrew needed to unburden his soul.

"Warren ended up killing his girlfriend with a robot that he created... that's when the whole playing at being bad guys thing stopped being fun. I should have done something then; I could see that Warren was messed-up but I just went along with his plans. Eventually he killed Tara, that's what made Willow go insane and try to destroy the world..." Andrew said and turned to lay his head against Alan's chest.

Scott looked over at the movement and saw Andrew cuddled against Alan and on the verge of tears. Alan looked at Scott with a hesitant expression and Scott gave a smile to let him know that it was okay. For a moment Scott looked within himself to see if he felt any jealousy at the scene before him and decided that he didn't, he only felt happy that Alan could provide Andrew comfort if he needed it.

"Then Angelo started..." Jubilee began and Scott turned his full attention back to her, knowing that Andrew would be fine in Alan's care.

"What about Jonathan?" Alan asked carefully, sensing that the worst was yet to come.

{I killed him.} Andrew said in a whisper.

Alan immediately bent his head and placed a kiss on the top of Andrew's head, then said, "Tell me about it."

Andrew pulled back in surprise at Alan's reaction and looked at his face to gauge his emotions. There wasn't any accusation, disgust, or horror, only concern. He put his head back on Alan's chest and said, "The first evil had tried to trick me and coerce me into killing him as a sacrifice to open the hellmouth. When that failed, it finally assumed control of my body and did it for me. I could see and feel everything but I couldn't stop it." {He was my best friend and I killed him.} Andrew said in a whisper as he started to cry.

Alan began to rub Andrew's back and started a slight rocking to comfort the crying man in his arms. He thought about telling Andrew that it was alright, and that he wasn't to blame. But he knew that they would be meaningless words to Andrew.

A few minutes later, Andrew quieted and seemed to fall asleep in Alan's arms. Alan looked up to see Jubilee and Scott watching him with expressions of tenderness on their faces.

Alan carefully made a shushing motion and laid back to sleep.

Scott and Jubilee went back to their talk in hushed whispers until she had caught him up on the past months events in her life.

"So what about you Mr. S.?" Jubilee asked, sparing a glance at the sleeping forms of Andrew and Alan.

"Me? The story is too long and complicated to tell right now, but suffice it to say, that I have a boyfriend who cares about me and a brother who understands me. I have the feeling that I am exactly where I need to be at this point in my life. It's really hard to explain." Scott said with serenity showing through his voice.

"Please try." Jubilee asked in fascination. It had only been a few months that she had been able to think of Scott as a person, as opposed to a teacher. Now he was talking to her like an adult, and she felt that what he was about to describe was something that she might one day want to have in her own life. Not the boyfriend/brother combination, but the sense of contentment.

Scott thought about her request and noticed the uncharacteristic look of adult concentration as she waited for his next words.

"It's difficult but I'll try... Andrew is smart and caring. He is honest to a degree that can be off-putting if you don't know him. On the outside he seems timid, but inside, where it matters, he is one of the bravest men I have ever met. I envy his ability to see past the masks that people wear and understand what drives them." Scott said and felt tears forming in his eyes.

"Alan is more difficult to describe. He looks just like me, but inside he is really different. He and I share a few of the same characteristics but we are actually very different people... and I like him. He is a genuinely good person, and those can be hard to find in this world... or any other I suppose." Scott said with a smile.

"Put it all together, and I have everything I could ever ask for. I don't know if I believe in a supreme being but if there is a God up there somewhere, he has blessed me beyond what anyone deserves." Scott said and noticed that a tear had escaped down his cheek.

"Wow." Jubilee said without thinking.

Scott gave a little chuckle and said, "Yeah, 'Wow' pretty much sums it all up. And you say that I'm good at summarizing."

"I'll come back and talk later. You could probably use some rest before your class, and I need to get these dishes downstairs." Jubilee said and got up to leave.

"Thanks for the talk Jubilation. If you hadn't asked me to put it into words, I might not have consciously realized just how lucky I am." Scott said and laid back to get a bit of rest as Jubilee had suggested.

"Anytime Mr. S. Thanks for not treating me like a kid. I know I'm not ready for what you have, but now I think I'll have an idea of what I'm looking for when I am." She said with a smile, then tilted her head and rethought her words to see if they made any sense at all.

Scott smiled tenderly and nodded to convey that he understood her meaning.

A moment later she pushed the food cart out of the room, leaving a plate of food under a cover on the table for Xander.

To Be Continued...